Posts Tagged ‘cork’

Atlanta Shoe Show: The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

This past week our Merchandise Manager and I attended the Atlanta Shoe Show, one of the largest shoe buying conventions in the country. Many buyers will tell you that early spring and late summer are their favorite (and also most nerve-wracking) times of the year in the business, because these shows allow us to review/refine orders that we’ve already placed (in this case for fall 2015) and at the same time continue our never ending search for the next big brand in our lineup.

Here are a few trends/highlights from last week’s show:

Trending Now: Women’s low boots: Low boots (boots that are no more than about 6”-7” in height) are very hot right now across the industry, with their popularity aided in part by their chic look when worn with tights or skinny jeans. For fall 2015, look for high quality leathers to be used in many low boots along with super-soft luxurious linings. What impressed us most was the wide selection of low boots for fall that included some kind of solid medial and metatarsal arch support, often provided by high quality cork and leather footbeds. Birkenstock, our top-selling brand, is even jumping into the mix, with four new low to mid-height boots for fall that feature the classic Birkenstock cork footbed, and we couldn’t be more excited.  This coming fall will see the largest selection of high-quality, supportive boots that we’ve ever offered in our stores and online.

Hot Brand: Think!: Founded in central Europe in the mid-1960’s, Think! Shoes follows the simple philosophy that healthy shoes don’t have to be ugly, and Think! takes the concept a step further to design many of their healthy shoes as art for the feet. What truly sets Think! apart from the crowd are their smart combinations of supportive, cork-based footbeds fused with eye-catching colors, patterns, and adornments. This spring will see the launch of Think! at Happy Feet Plus, as we offer seven styles, one of which, the Mizzi black, is pictured below. And from what we saw for fall ’15, we believe that Think! has a bright future at Happy Feet Plus.

Think! Mizzi black
For the guys: Dress shoes with support: When is the last time you found a good looking men’s dress shoe with a footbed that offered as much support as something custom-made for less than $150? Anyone….? We thought so. Let’s face it, attractive and supportive are two terms that mix about as well as oil and water when it comes to men’s dress shoes. That’s why we were so pleased to find that Vionic has begun to offer a line of classic, stylish men’s dress shoes that come with a very supportive and removable insole. The result (for just under $150) is an extremely well-built shoe that you can wear all day without killing your feet. These Vionic men’s dress shoes will be available at Happy Feet Plus stores and online at happyfeet.com within the next six months.

Sure, there are a ton of great looking shoes out there that offer about as much support as a deflated pancake, and when we’re at the Atlanta show it sometimes becomes all too easy to get drawn in by looks over substance. All we have to do, however, to regain our senses and remember our company mission to offer the finest healthy footwear is to look to brands like Birkenstock, Think!, and Vionic. These brands have kept their focus on producing shoes that are better for your body, and many of their styles just happen to be pretty darn attractive, too.

By: Matt LaBarge, 2/17/15

 

Cork – What’s It All About?

What is Cork?

Corkboards, cork bottle stoppers, cork footbeds.
We’re all familiar with these items, but what do we really know about cork?

I haven’t seen a corkboard in years. Cork stoppers in wine bottles are giving way to twist-tops and artifical stoppers. But Birkenstock cork footbeds are still the same as they always have been. Is this a good thing or a bad thing?

Cork is a renewable resource, so harvesting cork doesn’t destroy forests. Better than that, Birkenstock uses by-products of the wine industry. I guess that makes using cork a good thing. But where does cork come from?

The Cork Oak is a medium-sized, evergreen oak tree and is native to southwest Europe and northwest Africa. The tree has a thick, insulating bark that may have been the Cork Oak’s evolutionary answer to forest fires. The tree forms a thick, rugged bark which can develop to a considerable thickness and can be harvested every 9 to 12 years to produce cork. The harvesting of cork does not harm the tree, in fact, no trees are cut down during the harvesting process. Only the bark is extracted, and a new layer of cork regrows, making it a renewable resource.

Today every part of the cork harvest is put to use. Leftovers from the bottle cork stamping process are ground down in various sizes and then sorted by quality. Birkenstock ground cork comes from the first quality by-products of the wine industry. The cork-latex mixture (the main component of the Birkenstock footbed) is made in small batches to minimize any waste. Any excess is recycled.

Birkenstock is still using both natural cork and natural latex in their footbeds as they have since the very beginning. It’s good to see something like this that has been working so well for so long. The cork-latex mixture is a wonderful combination that adapts to the individual wearer, molding to the feet over a short period of time. The cork-latex footbed feels good much like that old pair of jeans feels good.

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Regards,

Dave